“That is just too fuckin’ pretty to be real.” (Bob the drummer)
Sorry for the profanity in the above quote, but that’s what he said.
It was around 15 years ago, in the midst of my 3rd mid-life crisis.
I’d dropped out of advertising for a while — wasn’t sure how long I’d be floating, and gave no forwarding address to old clients — and was living off royalties and nurturing the power-trio rock band I’d formed over the prior months.
We were hanging out by the van — sober, if you must ask — after setting up in yet another filthy biker bar on one of the nastier streets in Reno, killing time until the joint filled up and we could start playing.
Mid-May here in the high desert — nestled in the bosom of the Sierra Nevadas, just below Lake Tahoe — can take your breath away.
The sun had just set, and the sky glowed with that special ambient dusk-glow that made the whole world seem like a dream from the bottom of the ocean.
We all stopped, mid-lies and mid-guffaws, and drank in that certain kind of alive-ness you can only access when you’re outside during the sun-to-stars changing of the guard.
Friday late afternoons have given me a visceral thrill since I was a kid. For most of the culture, it was time to wind down, go home and settle in for the evening. For the rest of us — the night owls and the rebels and the wayward uneasy souls — the day was just getting good.
So we remained silent for a long time, just gazing at the sky and enjoying being exactly where we were, about to do exactly what was coming up.
I won’t even try to describe the sky. Like I said — high desert, spring, mountain-filled horizons…
Bob the drummer broke the silence.
“That is just too fuckin’ pretty to be real,” he said.
And yet, there it was. As real as you or me.
I thought about that scene this afternoon as Michele and I roared down the highway to go grab some cheap Chinese food for dinner. We had the top down, and the gathering dusk swirled through the car and around my heart.
It might have been exactly this day in May, 15 years ago, that Bob said that.
But tonight, it feels like it was just minutes ago.
Why am I telling you this?
Because… that was A Moment. I’ve had a lot of Moments in my life… crisp memories that define feelings I can’t otherwise begin to explain. Smells, sights, sounds, a whispered name… all kinds of random triggers bring these Moments rushing back to me, and I’ve embraced them like lost lovers every single time.
I’m not sure what life is all about. I have no clue what meaning — if any — there is in all the comings and goings, the worries and deadlines, the urgent opportunities and the grand victories.
I only know that — every once in a while — life arises and smacks me upside the head with a beauty so glorious, so deeply satisfying, and so… fucking awesome…
… that I am reduced to tears.
And I don’t know what to make of it.
Part of me doesn’t want to even try.
That Moment in time… kicking back with a couple of lunatic musicians, confident in our ability to soothe the savage beasts in that bar when we hit the stage, soaking up the visual delight that is Nevada at dusk in spring…
… somehow, deep in the ancient lizard-brain recesses, it all just felt right.
I don’t want to feel like that all the time — it would kill me. I’d just melt into a puddle of grinning goo.
But I sure am glad I still get to have these Moments. Maybe they’re little links in the chain of an individual life. Signposts into the past, with promises of the future.
If there really is a future and past. (Have to check with Asimov on that point.)
This, tonight, is what is on my mind.
I’ve been obsessed with business for months now. Speaking at seminars, launching the Simple Writing System, maintaining the Hydra heads of Marketing Rebel, planning for 3 weeks in Australia coming up fast…
… it can eat up all your neurons.
And yet, somehow, Moments sneak in. They always have, and I’m grateful.
So here’s my question for you today: What’s on YOUR mind?
Obviously, I just went into and then out of a reverie. All morning and afternoon, it was biz, biz, biz.
And then a Moment.
I love the interaction in this blog. It keeps me grounded.
So, seriously — what’s on your mind this fine, fine spring day as the Earth spins madly around the Sun in an expanding universe of Big Bang galaxies?
Have you had a Moment, too, recently?
Let’s talk about something other than biz, just for today…
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“Let’s talk about something other than biz, just for today…”
What a welcome gesture, John!
Tonight I watched the moon come up and hang, brilliant orange, on the tree top for what seemed an eternity. Friday past was the full moon attributed to Siddhartha so it was still large and magnificent. I thought this is the moon of “lovematism” a term I coined.
Lovematism is not biz even though my business is all about filling her love bucket.. Lovematism is the enduring intimate bond of lovers. My wish for everyone is to experience lovematism.
Six days ago my 20 year young cousin was killed. He was on the West Bank in Israel. Noam had not experienced lovematism in his life. He was robbed of the lovematism experience.
Lovematism is so out-of-this-world, like Bob exclaimed, it may not seem real (I’ll leave the profanity to Bob). But it is. Real that is. When you have the depth of connection of intimacy of sexual magnetism, mental hypnotism, emotional rhythm, and spiritual mysticism, you are transported out of the day-to-day to the magical and divine. It touches the power house mitochondria of every cell in your body and connects to the moon and heavenly bodies. There is no separation only connection.
When I feel lovematism there is no need for expression. It just is. When I see a couple who share lovematism … I am reduced to tears. The beauty of the moment. That’s all there is – lovematism.
I think you’re referring to “upside the head” . Just doesn’t make sense to me.
Unless you’re expecting to raise Asimoz from the grave, I highly doubt you’ll be checking with him anytime soon.
And if that wasn’t one fine example of telling a story in copy, all about “biz” without being “biz” at all…
Just for today,
What is wrong?
If you were in Reno you would be a ways north of Tahoe. Would be hard to see it.
Nice writing. I haven’t had one of those moments in a little while. It’s been all biz. But on the other hand — I am one of the moments in a way. I try to keep it going in the midst of it all. But it’s a little tough these days. (;
Maybe it’s the way the trees look over there at different times of the day, but my gut say’s the picture was traken at sunrise, rather than sunset.
Wow. Nobody’s won the prize yet.
The question, again: What’s wrong with the photo I’ve used for this post?
Do I have to give some hints here?
Now… Darwin’s right — we can’t see the lake from here, cuz it’s another 2,000 feet up. But we’re not north of it — it’s a straight shot up, almost, from the valley to the shore. And Ken… “upside the head” is a common slang term. At least, it used to be.
In fact, the band did a tune by Buddy Guy titled “Brick” which went “A brick, baby… that’s what I’m gonna put upside o’ your head…”
Yeah, gruesome. But it’s great imagery…
Keep tryin’, everyone…
The photo. What’s wrong with the photo, in relation to the story I told?
OK one more shot, if it’s not the sunrise/sunset thing. It has to be the tree, so I will go with saying that type of tree will only be seen in coastal areas, not the ‘high desert’.
That’s got to be the first full article I’ve read for a while. The story-telling and the subject just kept me reading.
Where’s the mountains on the horizon?
I would have to say that there are no mountains in the picture.
I would have to say it sure ain’t a pretty picture. Actually kind of ugly.
Sure looks like a Sabal Palm to me. Chances are the photo was shot in Florida or California and not the “high desert”.
And given the lack of pollution, I’d say that’s a Florida photo. Sabals, also known as Cabbage Palms, are Florida’s state tree.
John, you got us going.
The photo is completely unconnected to the story. It has no center of focus for the eye and doesn’t tell any part of the story. It is just “sitting there” like a lipstick stained cigarette butt in an ashtray, in the middle of a love story.
I am a therapist and your joining of these particular images lacks congruency. They simply do not “hang together” and reinforce each other.
If the photo was a tight shot, showing reflected golden-red light glowing on one of the older frond’s edge with a blurred living-green frond in the background, maybe it could add to the story. Transcendence is hard to capture, but your story does a great job. The photo has a long way to go.
Dang I had the “palms are water hogs – you were in the high desert” comment in before Teak, but seems like your theme (?) isn’t accepting comments from Firefox – this is the second post that’s happened to me – didn’t bother to try again on the other … thought maybe you had a moderating something in place that just didn’t notify the poster. First time was on the one about your new “look and feel” here.
Might wanna check that??
Thanks for the heads-up.
What version of FireFox are you using? I’m using FireFox 3.0.10 and not having an problems posting comments. Did you try a different browser?
Hmm – same version … I spaced and tried to post this reply that way (lol) and it puts me here:
Am posting from IE now.
BIG mistake is not to include caption with each and every photo. All data proves that every (even
casual) readers look at the pictures and readtthe captions. All captions should SELL in sales letters.
The last time I was there, there weren’t any palm trees by Lake Tahoe
You were late by just thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much…
Hope all is well.
Is that Frank Kern up in that tree? This is the Pen Island palm tree isn’t it?
Not sure what to say about the picture. My mind also goes to the time of day. Stars taking over for the sun. I see no stars here, just a jetliner far away.
On another note. I recently found myself without work when our client decided it quits. Doesn’t matter why, not today at least.
I took a long walk through beautiful San Francisco the next day. I set down in Dolores Park where a motly crew of people were going around with trash bags. Like a police line in the search for a missing person, they scoped the part and picked up every piece of trash from the grounds. It was Monday morning. The day before, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (if you have to ask, you can’t afford to know) had performed and raised a ton of money for great causes.
The Sunday had been a great success and attracted hordes of people. So many people in fact that they couldn’t possible keep up and keep the park clean. Night fell and hundreds were still milling around.
So they decided to come back the next day to finish cleaning, so that next year the park service will let them come back and raise more money for great causes.
The trick is that several of these volunteers had other things to do, like making money, showing up for work. But they didn’t make excuses. They had committed to cleaning the park, and there they were on Monday morning.
People are fantastic, is all I could think. People are fantastic.
I’ll share a Moment.
I arrive a feeling of apprehension, giddiness, butterflies in my stomach. Today I pitt myself against chance, the payment my life. We unload the motorcycles, I look up the towering Sand Dune far above. I recall all of the times I’ve ridden around it, graceful and peaceful. Will it be the same this time? I can only pray…
The first ride, my boots are on, the only thing between me and the ground – a pair of thin jeans. I start the bike, it grumbles a low rumble. Like a 10 I know she’s ready to roll. We jet off, at 60 before we know it. We’re there, we hit the dune hard and fast, straight up we go. It’s time to turn, I look down and the whole world is as crystal, bright and clear. Only a second this can last, but it’s my moment, fun and fast.
The problem with the picture is that the tree doesn’t grow in Reno Nevada. That’s a Southern California palm, almost a weed because it grows everywhere here.
That specific palm tree is in La Jolla, not in Reno so that’s the disconnect.
Rich wins, answer number 8.
The shot was taken from my room at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, late in the afternoon. It is, as Shelby says, a classic SoCal palm, not found a mile high (Reno’s elevation is 4,000 feet above sea level). And, just for the record, it’s a great shot, with subtle “third of the frame” positioning of the fronds against the deep blue sky.
That was fun.
And now that that’s settled…
… what’s on your mind?
Last night my 13 year old son and I had one of the most eye opening conversations. I am a single mom with a mediocre cleaning business with a small handful of customers. What I really do to earn my livimg is work at two different Dominos pizza places and deliver pizza seven nights a week. (60 to 70 hrs wk) I make twice as much cleaning a house in the same time and nobody robs me (been robbed twice at Dominos) and will probably never fall asleep at the wheel driving to a cleaning like I do sometimes delivering pizza at night since I do not get much sleep since I work all the time. I am working so I do not attend very many functions my children are involved in since they fall at the same time I work.
He said Mom, I am very angry at you. You tell me that I do not work up to my potential in school and I see you not working up to your potential by delivering pizza every night and not being home with your family. You are smart, why don’t you get a good job that makes more money and be home at night with your family. We never see you mom, we raise ourselves. I thought about that all night and realized he was absolutely right. I am right now working on building up the cleaning business and to stop hiding from life. I am going to stop being addicted to struggle and be a big person and do what I have to do. I haven’t had a revelation like this in a long long time. I have been hiding from life by working every night using the excuse I had to to earn enough money to pay for our life. Of course it is true about the money, but there are other ways to earn money that are more family friendly. My 13 yr old son “found me out” and challenged my comfort zone. It was easy to hide out at my patetic job and let my three children raise themselves while my parenting consisted of text messages, phone calls and notes.. (My other two children are older.)
So the contest has a winner and never having seen an American palm, only the African varieities, I would not have had a chance anyway.
But a question, can there be more than one mid life crisis? Or should there be a pre-mid life crisis, a mid life crisis and maybe one or more post-mid life crisis/es.
It’s all academic any way, until we reach the end of our lives, we cannot know when the mid point was, by then who cares.
Nice story, I could picture your “moment”
Thanks for sharing that John. In the midst of a crappy week, I needed to hear that.
All the best,
Hang in there, Doberman. Things have a way of evening out, over time. It sucks when you’re impatient, but try to hold onto a Zen long-view. What doesn’t kill you, etc….
I won your contest last week for posting first on the new blog.
I’m wondering when I’m going to get my prize. (I’m sure I was lost in the confusion…no hard feelings)
I’ve been giddy since you declared me the winner. (The last thing I’ve won in a contest was a free donut from the popular coffee franchise Tim Horton’s in Canada)
Hi Ian. No, you’re the winner. My assistant, Diane, has been swamped the past week or so (and still hates me for giving away all this free stuff).
I’ve just emailed her to see where she’s at with the prize stuff…
There isn’t a “right” choice on this one but I’d love to hear any advice from those who can relate to this silent debate in my head…
…”25 years old, lived in Chi-town my whole life and itching to get out and see the world from a different view for a bit but plagued by guilt of leaving my 3 grandparents only to never see one again.” My 85 yr old italian grandmother (widowed) tears any time I say a single sentence about traveling or moving!
So, the question I can’t get my arms around….Is it better to stifle my desires and avoid the risk of never seeing a loved grandparent again? Is that cowardly? Is it of good character?
I don’t know….I really don’t. But this is what’s on my mind a lot. Feel like my world view is too narrow and some new scenery and setting would be good for me. Yet, I always talk myself out of it…convinced I’ll hate myself if something bad happens when I’m gone.
What do you all think? Any wisdom you can pass on to this young hungry cub?! If you were me, what would YOU do?
Hi Brian. No good answer on this one. Look to biographies to see how others handled difficult choices. Arnold Schwartzenegger, for example, left Austria to pursue his dream in the US… and missed his father’s funeral to stay on track to win, I think, Mr America or some other title. Not sure his family forgave him… but he never looked back.
Other folks redesigned their dreams to fit the circumstances… and would never have made that kind of choice. Get this month’s “Atlantic” magazine — big damn article in there about a bunch of guys from the Harvard classes of 42, 43, and 44 — World War II years — and how they all fared in their lives. It’ll sober you up.
You CAN travel, and yet keep Chi-town in your sites. Jets travel all over the place, you know. And you CAN find other ways to stay in touch. In previous generations — before jet travel — you could get on a boat for Europe, never hear from anyone for a month, and then finally get word that all kinds of things (good and bad) happened while you were on the seas. It’s just the way things were, and you did what you had to do to make sense of it all. 30 years ago, Brian, you could have been drafted at your age, and you wouldn’t have had a choice about leaving home.
The thing is, life is a short ticket for everyone. Living fast and hard isn’t the right choice for some, just as living slow and thoughtfully isn’t for others. You’ve got a while yet before you probably find your groove. Don’t panic. You’re still young.
Bottom line: No one can give you “good” advice. They can only point out things you may be overlooking. Guilt seems to play a role in your thinking — you can’t ignore that, or pretend it will go away. You CAN get a bigger world view right there in Illinois — by reading, by communicating with people via the web in other countries, by being curious and proactive and devouring info. Learn a language for another year or so, if you’re unsure of how to even start your life’s journey. Maybe Italian?
I was a slacker until I was in my 30s. Travel didn’t save me. Being a rebel offered me some interesting adventures, but it didn’t feed my soul — I craved a place in the world, something more than a job. I created it by reading, and studying, and taking advantage of everything around me. I spent my first 10 years as a freelancer with Los Angeles as my home base — I traveled a bit, but most of the opportunities I found were right under my nose.
You’re not a coward. And your character hasn’t reached full growth, either. You’re starting your adventure in life by craving something, and you don’t know what it is yet. But at least you want something. Now, figure out what it is.
First stop: Get the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Changed my life at 32. It’s the best place to start getting your head around figuring out what you want in life.
People you love will die on you, and continue to leave for as long as you live. It’s just the way it is. No one escapes tears, or grief, or doubt, or fear.
The lucky ones shake off the fear, at least, and go after goals. Guilt is tricky, but it can be dealt with. Treat every moment with the folks you love like it may the last — tell them you love them, show them you love them, and help them understand how to love you back. A full life is crammed to the rafters with heartache and wonder. Do the best you can — and that begins with getting hip to the resources around you that can help.
You’re not alone in your feelings, or your situation. Get online and see who else is out there in the same boat. Just research how others are handling, or not handling it. Spend some time gathering info. This will help soothe your angst.
Read. A lot. And look to capture your own Moments…
Good luck, Brian.
That’s a great answer, and a situation I can understand. I am 47 and have a deeply unsatisfying lifestyle and an almost irrational desire to sell everything I have, quit my job and move to the States. I love the way of life over there, but there would be easier options.
For a European, it’s best if you stay in Europe, health care wise.
And if I am looking for a (fear based) excuse not to take such a radical action, they are legion; too old, will never get a residential visa, won’t be able to figure out a way of making enough dough online to survive, won’t be able to stay even if I do.
The list is almost endless.
But there is still that strong draw to make that sh*t or bust decision, go and MAKE something happen, or face the second half of life living an existence I don’t want.
20,30 even 40 dull and uneventful years, mentally wishing I was living elsewhere and doing something else.
The siren call’s persist in invading my thought’s day and night.
It’s a big decision at any age, and I suppose ultimately, as John say’s, one you have to make yourself.
No one can answer your question for you.
The important thing is, whatever you do, do it fully. If you stay in Chicago with you grandparents (hell, even if you don’t), make sure to *soak them up completely*. Engage them, interact with them, ask them questions, pick their brains. For all sorts of things: experience, lessons, funny stories, times when the unexpected happened etc. You will “see the world from a different view” for sure.
John often speaks of *reality* and being in touch with it. Old folks are a prime source of reality lessons. You get hit with a lot of reality throughout 85 years. Use their experience as your own.
As you said, one day they will be gone. It’s a shame if all their Moments are lost with them.
All the best,
Wow, you really struck a nerve here, Brian.
True, no one can answer for you, but I’m glad you’re asking anyway.
Allow me to go deep here for a minute (cue “going deep” music..)
My mother and I were very close. She’s responsible for my better qualities
Ten years ago, when I was living in Chicago, switching careers and struggling to work things out for the future… she was back in Florida switching husbands and facing her own set of tough questions.
She wished I was closer to her so we could help each other. We were good at that.
But Florida was so far away in my mind. I had fought to escape. I somehow knew I’d “find myself” somewhere else. The thought of going back then felt like a prison sentence.
Mom and I talked by phone and wrote letters, but it wasn’t enough.
One very average night, just as my roommate and I were about to start a movie — the phone rang.
It was my girlfriend, Michelle.
“Have you talked with anyone yet?” She sounded panicked.
“No why, what’s the matter?”
“It’s your mom…” she said, her voice shaking. “It’s not good.”
I was on the next flight, but it was too late.
The aneurysm at the stem of her brain that no one knew existed had suddenly ruptured, causing a cerebral hemorrhage.
When I arrived at the hospital, doctors were putting her chances at “2 percent.”
“Two percent!” What the fuck? At least humor me and bump it to 5.
I sat at her bedside for weeks… but she never regained consciousness.
Circumstances left me no choice but to return home to Chicago. A life paid weekly can only go on hold for so long. (strongest case I know for entrepreneurship)
She died a week later. On July 2nd 1999.
Of course, it eats at me… all the things I could have said and done to make life better for her – if I’d returned to Florida. Even just for a little while.
Who knows? Maybe we could have spotted the phantom bulging vessel before it burst…
Maybe she’d be inside my house playing with my children right now… the way I always wish she was.
But that’s not the way it went down.
And I could spend more time regretting it, and feeling like I let her down.
But, the truth is…
The thing she inspired in me, more than anything else, was a spirit of adventure. She knew that a life is made up not of days – but of moments. And creating those moments demands that you move some.
Traveling is all about unexpected moments. It’s what the truly living HOPE for when they travel.
It does grow you. It is critical.
And the opportunity does fade with time and complacency and responsibility.
So, whenever that nagging beast of regret crawls in and whispers “what if’s” at me, I take comfort knowing that the reason I was away from her then, was a result of who she inspired me to be – all the time.
What I want to say, Brian, is there’s no way to predict when anyone’s time will come.
But I promise you this…
If you pass up the moments that will make up your life because you’re afraid to miss the one that happens when someone you love will die… regret wins.
And a life of regret is a life wasted.
You’re a man. Go your way.
Your grandparents will love you for it.
That’s a heart-wrenching story. And yet, it’s inspiring, too.
I had the opposite experience — I nursed my Mom through a year of cancer hell (with Pop and Sis helping out, of course). There was lots of time to say goodbye, but mostly it was trying to stay sane as the doctors ripped her lifeforce apart week by week. (Yes, I blame Western medicine for making that final year more horrible than it had to be… but that’s another story.)
I bring this up because… on her last day, I was at her bedside, freaked out… and she told me a funny story, and laughed. It was mere hours before she was due to check out to the Big Nice Place In The Sky… and she was finally settling into a relaxed state. And her natural response was to laugh.
I realized, right then and there, that she was reminding me of the greatest gift she could ever leave me with — that wonderful sense of humor she gave me, and nurtured over the years to make sure it stuck.
Her death signaled the start of many severe changes in my life. I left advertising for a while, wrote a novel, moved to Lake Tahoe, and generally got my ass in gear on the next stage. I had no clue what lay ahead… but any fear was completely obliterated by my suddenly stronger sense of humor and — another gift from Mom — a renewed lust for life. Even more so than before, I took huge bites of life, chewed thoroughly, and enjoyed the entire process (both the good and the bad).
Soon after, I re-entered advertising, and wrote most of the ads I’m now famous for… and began teaching in earnest, eager to give back and enrich others.
Kevin and Ray offer excellent advice here. Whatever you choose to do… CHOOSE to do it, and then do it with all your heart. Some people appear to have “good” lives, but they’re only half-involved, and the regrets mount. Embrace the reality of your life, and seek out the experiences you crave… and suck up the bliss and enjoy it.
There will ALWAYS be conflicts and problems and trouble. And choices that aren’t clear.
Do the best you can, as best you can.
Again — a well-lived life is full of heartache as well as wonder… and as Sinatra sang, you’ll always have a few regrets. Just keep after it. Other people died so you could live free. Honor them by living the best life you can.
Seems to me the story setting doesn’t jive with picture–I’m not talking about the palm tree in the desert thing, rather the picture looks like it was taken sometime mid day.
In your story you’re painting this wonderful word canvas “The sun had just set, and the sky glowed with that special ambient dusk-glow that made the whole world seem like a dream from the bottom of the ocean,” but again the pic doesn’t relate.
Just my thoughts,
I’m the same way man, I can’t leave my grandma for extended periods of time. I take shorter vacations 2-3 weeks for now. Visit other countries if you have the opportunity it gives you a more global perspective, make money online and then buy them a mac and video chat with them while on your vacations.
You’re grandma just loves you but I’m sure she doesn’t want you to miss out on the world. Let them know how you feel about them everyday, and be prepared. Life’s short for us all.
John great advice – thanks.
I need give myself a vacation to Pulau Pombo,
To refresh my mind, SOON!
Wow…thanks to all who shared their thoughts.
John and Kevin-
The straight-from-the-heart responses were touching and the advice inspiring. Really. Got me doing some serious thinking over here.
FWIW, sharing a piece of you & your world like this that’s personal and not directly “profit-driven” adds a comforting element of realness to the dynamic.
So, thanks to both of you for sharing your thoughts.
Kevin, I’ll see you in class! John, drop in soon and don’t go easy on me!
I haven’t read a fresh sculpture like that since my Dad passed. He was a sports writer for 35 years and had a way with words. I have nosed my way through many a page of copy but I think I just found my home. You tell a story like I remember…like I was there, or wished I was. This horse has finally found a barn…..I bookmarked and linked to your site. Continue to teach and take us on your journey.